Microsoft Virtual Earth UK 'Birds Eye View' and Commercial License
<strong>UPDATE: You can now purchase birdseye imagery directly from us at Earthware, to find our more see our <a href="http://www.earthware.co.uk/products/map-imagery/default.aspx">birds eye and aerial imagery page</a>.Â </strong>
Having recently played around with <a target="_blank" href="http://local.live.com">Microsoft Virtual Earth </a>I've been amazed by the 'Birds Eye Views' some of which are now available for UK cities including St. Albans, Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, Swindon and a few others. You can see them all by looking at this collection:
<a target="_blank" href="http://local.live.com/?v=2&cid=546E7E30AC2C5011!1193">UK Birds Eye Views</a>
There is also <strong>full </strong>UK coverage of reasonable detailed aerial maps, much better than Google Maps current UK coverage. For UK businesses looking for mapping solutions this is brilliant news and we are working with a few companies on projects using this now. Here is a great sample of the 'Birds Eye View':<p style="display: inline; margin: 0px; padding: 0px" contentEditable="false" id="84E294D0-71C9-4bd0-A0FE-95764E0368D9:760ae737-9aec-4b0b-b595-f287235c4084" class="wlWriterSmartContent"><a alt="Click to view this map on Live.com" href="http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=51.75067~-0.3424536&lvl=1&style=o&scene=4236459" title="Click to view this map on Live.com" id="map-63c877b1-a65f-4411-8352-e195fb038f8b"><img width="320" src="http://earthware-website.azurewebsites.net/Content/images/wp-images/2006/08/WindowsLiveWriter/MicrosoftVirtualEarthUKBirdsEyeViewandCo_F7E1/mapb6078c15f1db.jpg" height="240" /></a></p> The only downside is the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.microsoft.com/virtualearth/control/terms.mspx">commercial licensing</a> :-( Currently it's still a bit vague but here is what the virtual earth site says: <blockquote style="font-style: italic">Transaction Limitations. Microsoft reserves the right, from time to time, in its sole discretion, to impose a limit on the number of Transactions (as that term is defined below) that You may request from the API or to otherwise limit or suspend Your access to the API or the Service. Without limiting the foregoing, You may not request more than Five Thousand (5,000) Transactions from the API in a twenty four hour period. A â€œTransactionâ€ means using any of the following Service functionalities (and subsets thereof), or any successor thereof or addition thereto, all as described in the Service software development kit located at http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=4932476 (â€œSDKâ€) including: i) Find Methods (Find, FindResult, FindResults,; ii) Route Methods: (Route,RouteItinerary, and RouteSegment); and, iv) rendering eight (8) map or photographic imagery tiles (256 x 256 pixels per tile).</blockquote> So you can use it on a public facing, low traffic site up to 5,000 "transactions" per day, otherwise you need a MapPoint account (large price with high entry transaction volumes). Currently however there is no way to add your MapPoint key to the current maps API, so its all a bit premature.
If you want to have a go at coding your own maps I suggest you take a look at the SDK <a target="_blank" href="http://dev.live.com/virtualearth/sdk/">here</a>.